The Inerrancy Summit is now over, but the effects of that week are just beginning. After more than twenty hours of teaching and preaching, there is now much to meditate on and study, and much sanctifying work for the Holy Spirit to accomplish through the teaching delivered at the conference.
We won’t know this side of heaven the full impact of the conference. But to help you think through the implications of biblical inerrancy in your own life—and to encourage those who have not yet watched the conference videos to catch up on what they missed—we asked some of the Grace to You staff to explain what they took away from the Inerrancy Summit.
In 2 Timothy 3:16–4:2, Paul proclaimed truths to Timothy that he already knew, commanding him to fulfill a ministry to which he was already committed. Why did Paul write these words to his dear friend and disciple? During the evening session on the first night of the conference, Ligon Duncan explained the reason.
Although Timothy was firmly committed to those truths, he needed to be encouraged to persist and grow in his confidence. The environment in which Timothy lived was increasingly hostile to God’s Word. He lived at a time when biblical authority was either ignored or despised—a time very much like today.
And like Paul’s exhortation to Timothy, the purpose of the conference was to encourage God’s people and solidify their faith in Scripture. Here are a few principles of biblical inerrancy that stand out:
The Word of God and the character of God are inseparably linked. They stand and fall together. To claim that God’s Word contains errors is to impugn His character. Conversely, one who affirms the inerrancy of Scripture demonstrates his faith in the Person and works of his heavenly Father.
The question of whether Scripture contains errors is a question of authority. Who can be trusted as the source of and final authority on truth? There are only two options: God or man. Every person chooses to either submit to the authority of God or assert his own authority.
Boldness in ministry is the result of confidence in Scripture’s inerrancy. Understanding the inerrant quality of God’s Word informs every aspect of your ministry—the way you preach and teach the Bible, the way you share your faith with others, the way you counsel others struggling with temptation and sin, and the way you study and comprehend all other biblical doctrine. On the other hand, the Christian who doubts the veracity of Scripture lacks the basic conviction that makes authoritative, effective ministry possible.
In many churches today the inerrancy of Scripture is questioned, criticized, and sometimes denied altogether. As a result, many believers’ confidence in its authority and sufficiency is being eroded. Like Timothy, modern Christians need to be reminded of the inerrancy, authority, and sufficiency of Scripture, renewing their confidence in its ability to transform lives.
One of the most unexpected surprises from the conference was the consistent focus on how the doctrine of inerrancy relates to our lives and ministries. I should have known better, but I expected to hear messages defending the doctrine, and some mention of how inerrancy affects the ministry of preaching. Instead, what we heard was message after message illustrating how inerrancy is not only true, but also influences virtually every aspect of our lives.
Ligon Duncan emphasized that a danger for inerrantists is that we will functionally—if not overtly—deny inerrancy in order to justify sin in our lives. Ian Hamilton directed our thoughts to the humble and submissive attitude required of those who believe in a perfect Scripture. Mark Dever highlighted the blessings an inerrant Scripture offers to those who know it, love it, and obey it. Miguel Nuez reminded of us of how inerrancy empowers the mission of the church—specifically, making disciples. Virtually every speaker made a significant effort to not merely defend inerrancy, but to demonstrate its vitality in the Christian life.
The Emergent church may now lie in ruins, but one of its lies—the so-called “hermeneutic of humility”—lives on among many mainstream evangelicals. Prior to its collapse, the Emergent movement was a celebration of confusion and doubt. Emergents argued that being certain about biblical truth indicated a lack of humility—in fact, their concept of humility demanded that they not hold any truth dogmatically.
But to concede that the meaning of Scripture cannot be known—is that truly a humble approach to handling God’s Word? Isn’t skepticism in some ways the opposite of humility?
I was reminded of the deceitfulness of that Emergent viewpoint as I attended the Inerrancy Summit. I was struck by the genuine humility of all the keynote speakers as they bowed to Scripture’s authority and sufficiency. They studied each text carefully, then spoke its meaning accurately. Their humility before God’s Word did not result in skepticism or indecision but in the firm conviction that Scripture speaks with complete accuracy and authority, and that the Bible is the vehicle through which the Holy Spirit transforms lives.
Isaiah wrote his last chapter vividly describing true humility in approaching God’s Word:
Thus says the Lord, “Heaven is my throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” (Isaiah 66:1–2, emphasis mine)
God’s favor is directed toward humble men and women who tremble at His Word and obey it. Humility prompts God’s people to not only submit to His Word but to proclaim its authority and accuracy. The true hermeneutic of humility doesn’t delight in doubting Scripture but accepts and believes the Bible’s testimony to its inerrancy—an attitude that was abundantly displayed during the Inerrancy Summit.
Like Gabriel, I did not expect to be so thoroughly confronted with the practical side of biblical inerrancy—or find that it was such a practical doctrine to begin with. Over and over, the conference speakers explained that your view of the character and quality of Scripture directly correlates to how you submit to it.
Alistair Begg mentioned on the first day that the greatest threat for most believers is not outright apostasy. He said, “The real challenge is not that we stop believing the Bible, but that we stop using the Bible.” Many other speakers warned about that same subtle drift away from the authority and sufficiency of God’s Word, and how it begets a cycle of temptation, sin, and further distancing from the light of Scripture.
Others focused on how biblical inerrancy is inextricably linked to the character of God. On the final day of the conference, Sinclair Ferguson eloquently explained how the relationships within the Trinity figured in the church’s reception of God’s Word, and how those same relationships must guarantee its inerrancy. Put simply, a perfect and righteous God who cannot lie (Titus 1:2) would not—could not—give His people anything less than an inerrant Bible.
In the end, your view of inerrancy is not academic. It permeates at every aspect of your faith, and sets the course for spiritual growth, doctrinal understanding, and usefulness in ministry.
If you missed any part of the Inerrancy Summit, or you want to revisit some of the teaching that’s already blessed you, visit shepherdsconference.org.